Wednesday, February 15, 2012

becoming legal.

 i posted a few times on how i've been living illegally in the dominican republic for the past seven years. by illegally, i mean that i have made full and conscious decisions to live and stay in this country and have done nothing to legalize myself. recently, laws have changed that are forcing me to finally bite the bullet. i had three options - a work visa (which seemed complicated and, since it only lasts for one year, not really the best option for us), a residency permit (expensive and not permanent, i'd be in some sort of residential paperwork for at least ten years), or dual-citizenship.

luckily, i know somebody and that has made the process (which is already super-easy) even easier. i travelled to santo domingo to turn in my paperwork (basically -a lot of copies or birth certificates and passports) two weeks ago. last wednesday i returned to have my "interview"

i arrived on the bus - whose station is conveniently across the street from the police station i had to visit. i thought it was that police building at the top - but it's not. (during my first visit, i had a lovely argument with the guard in that building regarding my friends' clothing - inappropriate- was taken to the wrong place - obviously, i was in the WRONG building - and then ushered out the door and across the street) to this lovely gem of an institutional building.
 i had no idea where i was supposed to go in this monstrosity of mid-20th century architecture, so, eventhough i had already decided i wasn't going to abuse my connection, i had to stop by to find out where to go.

 i was given an escort (who told me i could post his face when i am sworn in) who took me to the 13th floor. we waited around for awhile. the lobby got a little crowded with others looking for a dominican passport. my guy helped do my fingerprints and fill out yet another form. seriously, forms in quadruplicate and hand-written. i was first in for my interview. nervous i wasn't, who could fail a test that asks things like "what currency is used in the dominican republic?" and "in what month do we celebrate carnaval?"


who are the founding fathers? of course, juan pablo duarte, sanchez y mella. who doesn't know that?

what are their first names? please answer formally.

because i didn't know their first names. even when she prompted me. luckily she had written down JP Duarte and offered up a rebound question with the same answer. score.

the other questions were easy, though i'd argue that technically there are a ton of trick questions on the test. if you want me to memorize from a book, let me know - but what kind of citizen does that make? first president? sanchez, technically, but the answer you're looking for is pedro santana, the first constitutional president. and when was the constitution written? last year. no lie, they change the thing like they change their underwear, but the answer to use is 1844 or something. and it's the magna carta.

after a delightful conversation with interviewer (and obnoxiously holding up the process for the rest of the waiters), i was told i had passed. my documents will now go on to the DNE (USA), the DNCD (DR) and INTERPOL to make sure i don't have a seedy background or, according to a friend on facebook, pirate dvds (because that's what interpol looks for).
i headed back to the bus, complete with new friend-escort. the whole day (with 6 hours of travel) only took a eight hours. it wasn't delightful, but it's nice to know i'm on my way to getting legal and that i'm almost done.

my fingertips were tinted that blue color for three days. it's the same ink they use to prevent fraud at election time (once you vote, they paint your finger) and i think it must be super-permanent.

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